Letter: May is mental health awareness month

To the Editors:
I am proud to represent Wilton on the Catchment Area Council of the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board (SWRMHB). I am writing to promote Mental Health Awareness Month, held annually during May, and to encourage my friends and neighbors to visit SWRMHB’s website, HealthyMindsCT.org, to see the calendar of more than 60 free public events scheduled throughout Fairfield County. These events include expert speakers, trainings, films, book clubs, and theater performances, and all raise awareness of mental illness and mental wellness. Right here in Wilton, Dr. Susan Bauerfeld will present Talk Back to Worry on May 7 at 7 p.m. at Wilton Congregational Church. I hope everyone will take advantage of at least one event to learn more about how to support the one in five friends, colleagues, and family members who live with a mental illness. An information table will also be available at Wilton Library for the second half of May.
Providing trainings and resources and coordinating these awareness events with agencies throughout the county is just a single example of the broad array of services provided by the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board, one of five Regional Mental Health Boards in our state that play a vital role in Connecticut’s mental health service system. The Regional Mental Health Boards conduct regional needs assessments, develop service priorities, and evaluate programs for adults with mental illness that are paid for by our tax dollars. For 40 years they have brought consumers and providers together through their Catchment Area Councils, providing the mental health community with a strong voice that is heard all the way to the commissioner’s office.
Unfortunately, Gov. Malloy’s proposed budget has essentially eliminated funding for all five Regional Mental Health Boards. Without your help, the boards will be forced to close their doors after July 1, forever silencing our community’s voice in Connecticut’s mental health system. The system will suffer from their disappearance.
I strongly encourage all readers to contact their legislators and request they maintain funding for the mental health system, especially restoring the $584,000 in funding to the Connecticut’s five Regional Mental Health Boards.
Thank you for this opportunity to promote Mental Health Awareness Month and express my appreciation for the ongoing support of the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board.
Genevieve Eason
37 Dudley Road, April 28